The N.C. Council of Churches includes 18 denominations with churches large and small, urban and rural, black, brown, and white all across the state. One of the things we all have in common is the doctrine in Christianity known as the Holy Trinity. It claims that God is three in one. It can sometimes be a stumbling block to folks who prefer to think of God as singular, but the sum of the doctrine is that God’s work is accomplished as creator, redeemer, and sustainer; or, in the ancient language, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Libraries are filled with books attempting to explain this.
Easier to understand is the concept of our three in one government. You remember this from high school civics. We have the executive branch, the legislative branch, and the judicial branch. Separate branches essential for creating one government. They check each other. When one branch goes too far, the others keep things balanced. Think of a three-legged stool that cannot balance if one of the legs is missing.
Crucial to this three in one government are the courts and crucial to the courts are non-partisan judges. Yes, we elect our judges in many situations. In other situations, we elect the people who appoint them. But we often don’t pay attention—or even understand—this crucial part of our government. Here’s a test: can you name three of our current N.C. Supreme Court justices? Look at all those people going for their phones.
If we’re this unclear at the state level, how much more so at the local level. And, yet, these judges are deciding some of the most important aspects of our lives together in N.C. and in our local communities. There are some basic tenets necessary for this leg of the stool to be strong.
Under the banner of “Fair Courts N.C.,” the Council is touring the state with a coalition of partners seeking reforms that restore trust in the judges and ensure North Carolina courts are free of partisanship. We are stating:
- Judges should run for election independent from party affiliation. No labels. Just honest people.
- Judges should not engage in political activity when they are not on the ballot – like endorsing and fundraising for other candidates. What happens when legislation that person opposes or supports comes before the judge—like funding public education? Can you say Leandro?
- Judges should not hear cases involving friends and family members. What happens when legislation that family members oppose or support comes before the judge—like redistricting?
When the legislators are not upholding the laws of our state, we depend on the courts to hold them accountable on our behalf—those judges work for us. When the executive branch passes rules that are beyond the pale, we depend on the courts to hold him or her in check. This cannot happen if our judges are not fair, impartial, and independent.
No one is above the law, not the Governor, not the President, and certainly not the General Assembly. But in order for that to be true we need fair courts and non-partisan judges. If you want to know what happens when we have partisan judges, look no further than the unraveling of reproductive rights in this country. Wait for it, similar rulings can happen in N.C., if we don’t stanch this hemorrhage.
Three in one. Each part essential for the functioning of the whole. Keep that stool standing.
Please join us for one of the following press events near you.
Event Dates & Locations:
- August 25 – 10:00 am @ Guilford County Courthouse – 201 S Eugene St, Greensboro, NC 27401
- Event Link – https://fb.me/e/2IObqNvnU
- August 30 – 10:0 0am @ Mecklenburg County Courthouse – 832 E 4th St, Charlotte, NC 28202
- Event Link – https://fb.me/e/4ZiEEKAp4
- September 1 – 10:00 am @ Buncombe County Courthouse – 60 Court Plaza, Asheville, NC 28801
- Event Link – https://fb.me/e/a7oovsPJT
- September 13 – 10:00 am @ Cumberland County Courthouse – 117 Dick St, Fayetteville, NC 28301
- Event Link – https://fb.me/e/20NHhWvDt
- September 15 – 10:00 am @ New Hanover County Courthouse – 316 Princess St, Wilmington, NC 28401
- Event Link – https://fb.me/e/3S0r12u3v